Congress party workers across the state protested against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the alleged partisan nature of the state police on 20 December. A Youth Congress march in Thiruvananthapuram turned violent with party workers and police personnel getting injured.
They stated that Vijayan had been defending attacks on them by the police and members of the Students Federation of India (SFI) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), for showing black flags when the Chief Minister's convoy passed by for the state government's Nava Kerala Sadas programme.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government calls it a public outreach programme to take its work to the masses.
Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan reportedly called Chief Minister Vijayan, a "sadist" delinquent.
This is not the first time that the Congress and the Left are clashing in the state, while being partners at the national level. The Congress has conistently attacked the LDF government on the issue of corruption.
The two have been partners before. The Left was an important part of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-1 government at the Centre, before withdrawing support due to the civil nuclear deal in 2008.
They contested together in the 2021 Assembly elections in West Bengal and are now trying to reach a seat sharing agreement with the Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
However, they have been at loggerheads over a number of issues in Kerala.
Some of the instances that come to mind are the issue of the Vizhinjam port, the alleged scam in procurement of AI traffic cameras, allegations of the Chief Minister's daughter receiving payments amounting to Rs 1.72 crore from a company despite not providing any services.
The Congress has also not objected to Governor Arif Mohammad Khan's nomination of non-Left candidates to university senates, which was taken up in a big way by the SFI, though both of them have been alleging 'saffronisation of education' by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee chief, K Sudhakaran said that there was no reason to oppose the inclusion of those affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the BJP, if they were good candidates.
The CPI(M) also reportedly asked Rahul Gandhi not to contest from Wayanad. Gandhi had lost Amethi, his traditional seat in Uttar Pradesh and Wayanad is seen as a safe seat for him due to its large minority population.
The Indian Union Muslim League, an alliance partner of the Congress, is also being wooed by the CPI(M) to join the LDF, in order to wean away Muslim support from the Congress.
With the parties clearly working against each other at the state, it remains to be seen as to how well they coordinate at the national level and how much would the clashes in Kerala affect them elsewhere.
S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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